Chinese gay activist challenges homosexuality 'disorder' textbooks

Mon Sep 12, 2016 8:18am EDT
 
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By Natalie Thomas

BEIJING (Reuters) - A gay Chinese student activist on Monday lodged a suit against the Ministry of Education over school textbooks describing homosexuality as a mental disorder, the latest step by China's small but growing gay rights movement.

It is not illegal to be gay in China and these days many large Chinese cities have thriving gay scenes, though there is still a lot of family pressure to get married and have children, even for gay men and women.

Homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder until 2001.

However, Chinese universities continue to use textbooks that contain terms such as "disorder" and "impediment" to refer to homosexuality, research the Gay and Lesbian Campus Association of China carried out in 2014 found.

Qiu Bai, 21 and a media studies student at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, told Reuters she came across similar materials when she turned to the books in her university library after beginning to question her own sexual orientation.

"Since 2001 when homosexuality was declassified as an illness in mainland China, 40 percent of the psychology and mental health teaching materials published on the mainland say homosexuality is an illness," Qiu said.

She first raised the issue and lodged legal cases with the Ministry of Education in 2015, as well as with publishers of the textbooks. But her complaints were ignored and her applications were rejected.

A promise by the Ministry of Education to deal with her case through their internal mediation process in return for dropping one of the lawsuits also failed to materialize, Qiu said.   Continued...

 
Qiu Bai, a Chinese student who lodged a suit against the Ministry of Education over school textbooks describing homosexuality as a mental disorder, shows the present she prepared for officials near the courthouse before the hearing in Beijing, China September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj